Through love, teaching and cooking, Miss Vivian left impact on St. Helena Island

features@beaufortgazette.comFebruary 25, 2014 

In 1945, five graduates of Voorhees College, a historically black school in Denmark, S.C., were recruited to come to St. Helena Island to teach.

This was the era of one-room school houses with pot belly stoves. The county purchased wood for these stoves and when that allotment was gone, parents would pitch in. School buses weren't in the budget and, unless parents could afford the tuition at Penn School, education ended after sixth grade.

Vivian Ford, a teacher at South Pine School in the Scott community, was one of the Voorhees recruits, all of whom eventually married and made St. Helena their home. Originally from Denmark, where her father was a farmer and her mother a midwife, Vivian figured the experience of teaching on St. Helena would broaden her horizons. At that point in time, nothing had yet been written in the history books to enlighten her of the people of the island, and she was amazed by the culture.

Mary Cuthbert, who raised more than 50 children, none of whom were her own, opened her home to South Pine teachers. In those days, it was customary for teachers to board with respectable families.

Teaching was a challenge for Vivian, who had to make the most out of minimal supplies. She took a liking to her students and sometimes shopped for them when she returned home on the weekends. When she didn't go home, she would attend worship services with her students. She loved children and wanted a big family of her own one day.

Mrs. Cuthbert thought Vivian would make a nice wife for Edward Jenkins, a gentleman who lived nearby. Somehow, the women of the community encouraged this courtship. Vivian married Edward on July 30, 1946, and continued to teach at South Pine until it closed in 1951.

She was loved dearly by St. Helena residents. In fact, many students still remember "Miss Vivian." She taught Sunday school and sang in the Brick Baptist Church choir. She was a humble and strong person, who loved being at home, raising a family and sharing with her neighbors.

Her children -- Josephus, Edward Jr., Lydia, Carolyn and Gwendolyn -- were the pride of her life. The Jenkins children shared their mother's favorite recipes below:

MEAT AND POTATOES MEATLOAF

Makes: 10 servings

1 onion, peeled

2 potatoes, peeled

1 carrot

2 pounds extra-lean ground beef

2 eggs

1/2 cup nonfat milk

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put onion, potatoes and carrot through a shredder or use the fine shredding disk of a food processor. Combine with the remaining ingredients and mix well. Shape into a loaf and bake uncovered for 1 hour.

SWEET POTATO SOUFFLE

Note: This may be made a day or two ahead and baked when needed.

3 cups sweet potatoes, boiled, peeled and mashed

1 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 eggs

1/3 stick margarine, melted

1/2 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla flavoring

Mix all the above ingredients well with mixer until they're no longer lumpy and pour into a buttered dish and cover with topping (recipe below).

TOPPING

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup flour

1/3 stick margarine, melted

1 cup pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix sugar, flour and nuts. Add melted margarine. Sprinkle over souffle. Bake approximately 35 minutes.

HAPPY PUNCH

1 pound sugar

3 12-ounce cans frozen orange juice

3 12-ounce cans frozen lemonade

3 2-liters bottles 7-Up

3 46-ounce cans pineapple juice

Mix well and serve at a party.

Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition. Email her at features@beaufortgazette.com.

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